UNITED STATES—Toni, we have received a 15 percent increase on our Plan F Medicare Supplement effective November 1. I am a 70-year-old female in good health, but my husband is undergoing cancer treatment. Also, his cardiologist has advised him that he may need a pacemaker.

My friends have told me that we will have to wait until Medicare’s Annual Enrollment(AEP) to change from our current Medicare Supplement plan.

I am concerned that with this Medicare Supplement increase, we may not be able to afford the premiums. What should we do? Would a Medicare Advantage plan be a good option to change to with Sam’s cancer issues? Sarah from Nashville, TN.

Hello Sarah, you were given inaccurate Medicare information from a caring friend. I have good news for you because you do not have to wait until Medicare’s Annual Enrollment to change your Medicare Supplement. You can change your Medicare Supplement Plan F any time during the year. Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period is a time to only change your Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan.

The Medicare Supplement renewal increases are more than the public was expecting for Plans F and C. In 2015, Congress passed legislation called “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015” (MACRA) to help the medical industry by correcting the “Doc Fix” proposal. MACRA also updated Medicare Supplement’s plans F and C which began January 1, 2020. That is when Medicare Supplement Plan F and C rate increases began.

Anyone who wants to change Medicare Supplement plans and has been enrolled in Medicare Part B longer than 6 months must answer health underwriting questions regarding current and past health issues. This is what you and your husband will have to do to change Medicare Supplement companies and plans.

Sarah, you have an option to change from your current Medicare Supplement Plan F to a different Medicare Supplement company or a different type of Medicare Supplement plan such as Plan G or N. Both you and Sam must qualify by answering medical underwriting questions to change Medicare Supplemental plans. Sam may have difficulty qualifying for a new Medicare Supplement, because of his cancer and heart issues.

If you and/or he cannot qualify because of a health issue, then another option may be to search for the right Medicare Advantage plan to fit your medical needs. The only catch to making a change to a Medicare Advantage plan is that you must wait until Medicare’s AEP which begins October 15 through December 7 every year.

Below is what Medicare Supplement Plans G and N offer to change from a Medicare Supplement Plan F:

  • Medicare Supplement Plan G: offers lower premiums and the same Medicare benefits as Plan F except the Medicare Part B deductible is not covered and will be paid for by the enrolled Medicare beneficiary. Part B deductible for 2023 is $226. (2024 Part B deductible has not been announced yet.)
  • Medicare Supplement Plan N: has lower premiums than Plan G with more out of pocket. There is a $20 co-pay for a doctor visit with $50 co-pay for emergency room. Part B deductible is not covered, and, unlike Plan G, Part B excess charges are not paid for by the insurance.

Caution:  Do not cancel your existing policy until you have been approved by your new Medicare Supplement insurance company.

Sarah, your friends mean well, but taking their Medicare advice can lead you down the wrong path.

With Medicare, it’s what you DON’T know that will HURT YOU! Need Medicare help? Call the Toni Says Medicare hotline at (832) 519-8664 or email info@tonisays.com for assistance. Toni’s books are available at www.tonisays.com with a bundle discount for Toni Says® readers.